The Latest Community Health News
- Sunday Services in the Sanctuary at 9:00 am and 11:00 am
- Registration Required for all events (worship, children’s activities, nursery care). Register HERE
- Capacity Limited to 50% (including distanced seating with rows roped off and self-distancing between households).
- Masks required for everyone (worship leaders, including speakers and solo singers/musicians, may be unmasked while speaking/playing/singing).
- Children are welcome to begin in the Sanctuary (for about 10 minutes) before proceeding to activities (if registered) outdoors when possible, otherwise distanced indoors. Limited nursery care is also available by registration.
- Social Hour in the outdoor courtyard between services with coffee/tea provided, weather dependent. (masks encouraged outdoors).
- Livestreamed Services at 9am on our YouTube channel HERE (and available any time after that).
- Zoom coffee hour Sundays at 10:15 am. Join HERE.
- Wednesday Evening Forums at 6:30 pm on Zoom beginning October 13. Join HERE.
- Various small groups (contact the office for more information).
- We’ll provide community Covid-19 practice or concern updates in the weekly e-News, or through direct communication as needed.
- Small groups are encouraged to meet online or outdoors. Small groups may request to meet in the building with additional safety practices.
- We will monitor local and congregational risk and adjust practices as needed.
A special update from the Gathering Guidelines Team
Dear members and friends,
Like many of you, we are disheartened with the risk of variants, and to be planning for a very different fall than we had hoped. While we wish we could gather more fully in our building, we know that our collective health is the most important. Luckily, we have many creative people who are imagining ways to stay connected – outdoors, online – through these weeks.
This past week, the UUA provided updated guidance for our congregations. You can see their full update and guidance linked below. It includes a metric reference to CovidActNow.org, which provides information on local community risk. Currently, Olmsted and Rochester Metro are both in the “Very High” risk category. This means that indoor gatherings need to be limited, and outdoor gatherings need to include mitigation, requiring masks. Here are a few notes for the coming weeks:
Special In-Person Events are being planned for September, including:
– Welcome Back Picnic – September 12 at Slatterly Park
– Outdoor Services – September 19 & 26 at the Olmsted History Center
(we plan to hold our annual Water Communion service September 19)
Other programming includes the following:
– Sunday Services will continue to be live-streamed at 9:00 am.
– Sunday Social Hour will continue in the upper parking lot each week following the service. Masks are required when in close proximity to others.
– Forums and classes are being planned to be held online this fall, including weekly Wednesday forums..
– Children and Youth will have occasional gatherings, outdoors, as weather allows. Monthly Spirit kits will begin again in September, and outdoor activities will occur on Sundays when we begin in-person attendance. For more information contact Amy Nelson at email@example.com
– Small groups are encouraged to meet online or outdoors, and if meeting in the building, must maintain distance and wear masks (contact the office for more info.)
More details on all these events to come. For now, please reach out if you’re seeking ways to connect, and we will continue to monitor community risk and imagine possibilities to stay connected. We hope to gather with many of you in these weeks, and we are ready to expand ways to gather in-person as risk decreases. We will all need to continue to use the skills and tools – of technology and soul – that we’ve built this past year to carry us through these weeks. We will do so, in grace and hope, together.
We are grateful for the creativity and good spirits of many in our church helping us find hope, connection – and to be reminded you are beloved!
Guidance from the Unitarian Universalist Association:
Press release/President’s statement:
Gathering Guidelines Team
Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer
Ann Hutton, President
Summer 2021 Guidelines through July
The Guidelines Team will meet again in late June to update plans for mid/late summer and early fall. We are utilizing many resources for guidance, including CDC and MN Dept. of Health, as well as these two sources used commonly among our congregations:
UUA Guidance: https://www.uua.org/safe/pandemics/gathering-guidance
Metric Tracking: http://www.covidactnow.org
Contact the office with advance notice to schedule groups, to have the building open, or with other questions.
– Chalice Camp for children will be mainly outdoors, with building use as needed, following current CDC/Child Camp guidelines and parent expectations.
Additional guidance or practices may be shared by the office for certain activities.
The Guidelines Team will meet again in July to assess, and as needed, adjust plans for late summer and plan for fall.
While there is certainly great news lately about vaccines becoming available in our community and decreasing rates of COVID-19 infections in Olmsted County and in the state, the regathering team is recommending continuing our current virtual services and church operations at least through May 2021. Thankfully, our staff has adapted quickly and has provided us with high quality, wonderful services on a weekly basis on-line. We have had several drive-through events, outdoor coffee hours, and many outdoor and on-line fellowship activities as well as chalice circles, discussion groups, and committee meetings online.
We continue to discourage in person gatherings of any type in indoor spaces, even with masks. Outdoor events, if participants are masked and at least 6 feet apart are acceptable, but this can obviously be challenging in the cold weather. This is in agreement with current UUA guidelines (which we are monitoring) as well as our interpretation of local COVID metrics. To quote from the most recent UUA guidelines, our decisions are grounded in our UU values:
- Our abiding care and concern for the most vulnerable, inside and outside our congregation.
- Accessibility and inclusion for all of our members and friends to participate in our congregation, regardless of health status, health vulnerability, or ability.
- Recognition that we are part of an interdependent web and, as such, our risk-taking and our protective actions affect far more than just ourselves. Our congregational decisions can impact other congregations and the wider community.
- Ethical treatment and expectations for our leaders and staff, minimizing the risks to their own health and well-being.
- Our affirmation that good science, coupled with our UU values, must be the basis upon which we make decisions about in-person gathering.
- Commitment to our mission, community, and theology more than ever, mindful of the spiritual demands of this transition.
- Our deep hope that we as a country, and as a world, will not return to “normal” when the pandemic is over. We seek to live into “a new normal” of more justice, more love, more equity, more sustainability, and more peace.
Later this spring, as we know more about the current Covid-19 recommendations, vaccine distribution efforts, and the progress towards “herd immunity”, the regathering team will offer a forum to discuss plans for “reopening” our church community to more in person services and gatherings. During these cold winter months we look forward to warmer temperatures and weather when there will be opportunities to gather safely outdoors. Meanwhile, our church community remains strong and committed to supporting one another through this challenging time.
Our team welcomes your feedback, suggestions, and concerns.
Rev. Luke, Joe Lobl, Anita DeAngelis and Ann Hutton
Your Board has decided that we are now able to move into “Phase 2” of our pandemic guidelines. This includes just a few small changes to our practices, continuing our commitment to providing church experiences that value our communal health, and allow for a bit more flexibility in the use of our building and grounds. Here is what “Phase 2” means:
– Some staff will resume working in their offices, though some will continue working from home.
– Sunday service participants will have the option of recording their parts of the service from the Sanctuary (so we can see some familiar spaces!), while some will continue to record at home.
– Small groups may gather on the church’s outdoor property to care for our garden and landscaping (with approval from staff, who will provide best practices for safety).
We will continue to provide many opportunities for connection beyond in-person gatherings: online services, coffee hour, chalice circles, and other meetings and small groups. Your Board and Minister will continue to seek guidance from our national UUA, health officials and interfaith leaders for best practices for spiritual communities as we move through these phases with intention and care. The full guidelines can be found with the May update at:
Guidelines from the UUA: https://www.uua.org/safe/pandemics/gathering-guidance
If you or someone you know from church are seeking connection, interested in small groups this summer (including some newly forming ones soon), in need of spiritual, emotional, or material support in any way, please contact Rev. Luke or other staff. We are committed to finding ways to keep our community connected, providing spiritual sustenance and support. May you stay healthy and connected!
In mid-March, when we suspended gatherings at First UU Church, many of us likely thought we would suspend for a time and have a grand re-gathering in some future. Though we wish that could be the case, we now know that it will be a gradual process, and we hope to do so with intention, love and grace.
To fulfill our mission of being a compassionate community and being mindful of our ethical responsibility to the well-being of our community, these phases provide a guide (though open to change) for church life re-imagined for the coming months. The guidelines were developed in consultation with best practices from religious and health sources.
We will continue to live our mission of nurturing spirituality and practicing justice, providing online opportunities for connection of mind and spirit through worship services and small groups, as well as spiritual care for our members and friends. This is important for the long-term to support all those who will not feel comfortable gathering even after government guidelines are opened. It is an act of love to stay connected while keeping each other safe.
Please note that in-person gatherings are not allowed on the property in Phase 1 (our current phase) and in subsequent phases, must be approved by the Minister or Board. Online options (with assistance) are available through the office.
These are not easy times, or easy practices. The core of any congregation, from the very meaning of the word, is to be together. We miss sharing space together – in song, in fellowship, in caring, in laughter. We don’t know the exact timeline of these phases, or what “normal” will be in the coming months. At the same time, we know there is love and resilience at the core of our faith, and our church. We have, together, kept our church alive, even as how we “do” church has changed. What a time to be alive. May we do so with love.
Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer, Minister
Gail Bishop, on behalf of the Board of Directors
Congregational Pandemic Guidelines
Dear members and friends of First UU,
As the use of online meeting programs are on the rise, there are changing recommendations for user safety and group privacy. Going forward, all online meetings, forums, or fellowship events through the church ZOOM account, will require a password. See the information below, and if you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the office.
Most open meetings will have the same password, listed below, and each type of meeting will have a separate ID which will be provided in the weekly e-news (recurring gatherings will have the same meeting ID and password each time). Smaller or closed meetings may have different passwords or meeting IDs, which will be shared with those leaders.
While the password will not be publicly shared, you can always find the current links on our website:
Thank you, and we hope to see and hear you online as we stay connected!
UPDATED ONLINE MEETING INFORMATION:
Sunday Coffee Hour (each Sunday @ 11:15-12:00)
Recurring meeting ID: https://zoom.us/j/339392000
Password: Contact the office for the password
Wednesday Forum (each Wednesday @ 6:30-7:15)
Recurring meeting ID: https://zoom.us/j/123242902
Password: Contact the office for the password
A Message from Rev. Luke:
Dear members and friends,
Have you paused to take a breath recently? I hope so. If not, why not right now.
Breathe deep the breath of life.
For some, this time has been an invitation, almost a requirement, to pause and be still. For others, it has been a challenge to navigate rapidly changing demands for work, family, and daily life. Each of us has had to find ways to imagine a new way of being in these days, and through it all, I hope you have been finding time to breathe.
Here are a few updates about how life is changing at First UU Church:
– Find out the latest updates, links, and more:
You can find the latest information each week, including links for Sunday Worship Services and Wednesday forums in the e-news, or on our website.
– Staff will be working remotely:
After today, all staff will be working remotely. The building will be closed (though checked occasionally for safety, mail, and plant watering!), to encourage our staff to stay home to promote the health and well-being of all.
What that means for you:
– Contact: The best way to contact any staff is via email, and we will be checking phone messages from the church remotely (For staff contacts, click HERE)
– Worship: Worship services will be recorded remotely from various places, and still posted as one full video on Sundays at 10:00am – join us!
– Meetings: If you have a request to utilize our online meeting options, please contact Melissa Eggler.
– Support: Please contact the staff for any support or assistance needed (material, financial, spiritual) – we’re here for you and can connect you with others in the church who are glad to help serve in a variety of ways!
While the building is closed, our church – its people, its mission, its connection – is alive and well, even as things are changing and adapting. We are grateful to all those who have offered support to the well-being of the church during this time, with creativity and flexibility and grace. For now, here are words from Mary Oliver to guide our days together:
by Mary Oliver
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
Be well, breathe deep, know you are held in love,
and know your church is here for you.
This has been quite a week! We gathered last Wednesday for dinner and a forum, and by Friday the building was closed. Sunday we set aside time for sabbath, and we are working in creative, challenging, and beautiful ways to create community and keep our church “open” in every way possible.
Here are some ways to stay connected to First UU Church during this time:
1 – Online Worship Service
Visit our facebook page at 10:00am this Sunday to view our worship service together (this service will be recorded a little early, then posted right at 10:00 – press “play” to watch and comment throughout the service with others. We are working on possible live-streaming for future services).
2 – Online Gathering through Zoom online or by phone.
Simply click the meeting links below at the specified time to join an online community of fellow UUs – by computer (video and audio) or over the phone!
The link and meeting ID is the same for each time, so you can reuse the link.
Contact the office for assistance!
Forum – Soulful Connection – Wednesday, March 18 at 6:30 pm
A chance to interact with others from First UU for reflection and check-in about how we are creating community in the midst of social distancing.
By Computer: https://zoom.us/j/6648650782
By phone: +1-312-626-6799 (meeting ID 644 865 0782)
Coffee Hour – Sunday, March 22 at 11:15
A chance to interact with others from First UU for reflections on Sunday’s service! Grab a coffee, tea, or snack and join the conversation.By Computer: https://zoom.us/j/6648650782
By phone: +1-312-626-6799 (meeting ID 644 865 0782)
3 – Ask for or offer care to fellow UUs
If you would like to receive or offer care during this time, contact Melissa Eggler through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the church office for:
– Receiving or delivering groceries, food, or other household needs.
– Receiving or offering phone-call check-ins and conversation.
– Receiving or offering cards of care.
– Emergency financial assistance
– Any other spiritual or material support
4 – Create pictures and art!
We invite you to send us a picture of you or your family to join the seats in our Sanctuary! Send it to email@example.com. And we invite children (and adults) to create art – chalices, rainbows, flowers, to decorate our Sanctuary that you can see on our service videos! Mail them in, or drop them outside the front door at church in the “art box” starting Wednesday!
5 – Submit Your Pledge
As you may know, we are still in the midst of our pledge campaign. This church is striving to maintain connection and community in the midst of this time, and it is vital to have sustained support to continue to fulfill our mission well into the future. Please submit your pledge by mail, or online by clicking HERE. Thank you for your generosity!
6 – Breathe. Dream. Laugh. Sing. Create. Love.
Continue to remember that there can be sacred, sabbath-like moments through this. We hope you are finding your breath, lighting chalices, reaching out by phone or text or email to loved ones. You can reach out to the church, too, for any support. Please call Rev. Luke or any other leaders if you need emotional, spiritual, or material support. Here’s another poem to guide you:
And the People Stayed Home
by Kitty O’Meara
“And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised,
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being,
and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous,
mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses,
and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.”
Be well, breathe deep, stay connected!
Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer
Church leaders of First Unitarian Universalist Church met and have decided to close our building to all in-person gatherings until further notice. This includes all programming – for children, youth, and adults – such as Walden Hill Wednesday, Sunday worship, and all classes, committees, groups, & events held in the church building.
This has been a difficult decision, but we are taking guidance and recommendations from our national UU Association and other faith communities in the area.
Knowing this community is a central part of so many people’s lives, we are working hard to plan for what this means in our church. We are considering many options to encourage and equip groups to meet online and to find ways to broadcast our services. We invite everyone to join us in a practice of social distancing and soulful connection – finding ways to stay connected to each other in new and different ways.
At the same time, we also think this is a time that calls us to breathe, taking care and intention without rushing forward.
This is a rapidly changing and impactful time. We encourage you each to find ways to care for yourself, and for others. Part of our mission is to create a compassionate community – suspending in-person gatherings is a way to care for each other and to imagine how we can stay connected with each other.
Please be in touch with the church office if we can be of assistance or support. Know that your staff and leaders are working hard to continue to live our mission during this time – that while our building is closed, our mission and vision is alive and well, in this time when we need each other’s care as much as ever. So, spend time with those you love, find ways to nurture your spirit, take a break from the news, and remember this church is still your spiritual home.